Once upon a time, maintaining a company’s brand identity followed the same golden rule of the family dinner table: no politics or religion. In that simpler time, wading into the waters of hot button issues was an invitation for a public relations crisis that risked alienating your market. Given those guidelines, it’s easy to see why the brands of old opted to stay out of the fray.
For Brand Identity: That was then, this is now.
In contrast to the strategic neutrality of that bygone era, in 2018, being unequivocal about values of your organization plays a crucial role in building the brand identity that gives you an edge over the competition. Between the intensity of the debate on crucial issues and the willingness of people to make their opinions known, political and social views have become inseparable from our identities.
With this high voltage social climate permeating every facet of our lives, it should come as no surprise that consumers are showing increased interest in doing business with likeminded organizations.
Taking a Stand for the Brand
How much weight do consumers put on the willingness of companies to build a brand identity on the issues of the day? It turns out, quite a bit.
According to a recent study from Sprout Social, just about two-thirds of consumers consider it important for organizations to be transparent about political and social issues. Here are a few key findings:
- We want our brands to take a stand. Over half (66%) of consumers say it’s important for organizations to take public stands on social and political issues.
- Relevance matters. Nearly half (47%) of consumers say brands are most credible when an issue directly impacts their customer base.
- When values align, brand identity flourishes. When a consumer feels that a company’s views mirror their own, nearly 1/3 of them (31%) will commend the company via social media, helping to drive a far-reaching brand identity narrative.
While the study found that a consumer’s politics will color their reception of a company’s stance, the overall impact on consumers was positive, “with intrigued, impressed, and engaged emerging as the top three consumer reactions.”
Silence: The most deafening statement of all
While burying your proverbial head in the sand may have been safe back in the day, there’s evidence to suggest that a wishy-washy stand on topical issues is now the biggest brand identity risk of all. According to research by Daniel Korschun, Associate Director of Marketing at Drexel University, many consumers are apt to assume that a company is trying to deceive them when they fail to make their views known.
“Consumers behave this way because they find it hypocritical for a company that claims to be ‘guided by core values’ to then withhold its position on a political issue. The implication appears to be that the company is hiding something.”
Building a sustainable brand identity hinges on establishing trust with your customer base. If your business is the best at what you do and you would like to let consumers know through awareness-oriented marketing, contact Linda Fanaras, President/Strategist of Millennium Agency at www.mill.agency.